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State v. Monahan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 2, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
PAUL ANDREW MONAHAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Gary K. Anderson, District Associate Judge.

         Defendant appeals his convictions on five counts of invasion of privacy.

          Anne M. Rohling, Council Bluffs, David E. Richter, Council Bluffs, and Daniel J. McGinn and Edward F. Noethe of McGinn, Springer & Noethe, P.L.C., Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Paul Monahan appeals his convictions on five counts of invasion of privacy. We find the State has failed to show the complaining witnesses had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Also, because there is limited evidence to show Monahan knowingly viewed the genitals of the five complaining witnesses and no evidence beyond that to show he was acting for the purpose of arousing or gratifying his sexual desires, we conclude there is not substantial evidence in the record to support Monahan's convictions. Due to our findings on the sufficiency of the evidence, we do not address the other issues Monahan raises on appeal. We reverse the decision of the district court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On April 4, 2016, Monahan, who was then eighty-two years old, attended a high school track meet in Treynor. Monahan was the school chaplain for St. Albert Catholic School. He often photographed athletic events for the school and was at the track meet for this purpose. Monahan was charged with five counts of invasion of privacy, in violation of Iowa Code section 709.21 (2016), a serious misdemeanor.[1] The State alleged Monahan viewed the genitals of five members of the same track team while they were using the urinals in the public restroom at the track meet. The court denied Monahan's motion to dismiss on the ground his alleged actions did not meet the definition of the offense of invasion of privacy. Monahan signed a written waiver of his right to a jury trial. The case was tried to the court.

         At the trial, V.K. testified he was a participant in the track meet and was eighteen years old at the time. V.K. stated he used the urinal in the public restroom, and an older man walked up to use the urinal next to him. V.K. stated he looked over and saw the man take a step back and raise his arm as a front between their eyes, and then he believed the man looked down at V.K.'s genitals. V.K. stated, "Put your eyes on the wall, f***er." The man looked startled and left the restroom. V.K. and an adult, Steve Worley, who had been in the restroom, followed the man to his vehicle and got the license plate number, which was later traced to Monahan.

         W.W., who was then fifteen years old and participating in the track meet, testified he had been washing his hands in the restroom when he looked in the mirror over the sink and saw Monahan using the urinal next to V.K. He stated, "I saw this old guy with his hand behind his head looking over at [V.K.]" W.W. stated he believed the man was looking at V.K.'s penis. W.W. testified to a later incident, when as he was using a urinal, out of the corner of his eye he saw Monahan went to the urinal next to him and raised his right hand behind his head. He stated he believed Monahan was looking at his penis. W.W. testified he went into the restroom with R.B. and pretended to be washing his hands while R.B. used the urinal and in the mirror he saw Monahan do the same things as before.

         R.M. was seventeen years old at the time of the track meet. He testified he was using a urinal in the restroom when a man, identified as Monahan, came out of the stalls and went to the urinal next to him. R.M. stated from the corner of his eye he saw the man take a step back and then look down. He testified, "I couldn't really see his eyes. I know his head looked towards my genital area."

         R.B. participated in the track meet and was fifteen years old at the time. He stated he was washing his hands in the restroom when he looked in the mirror and saw Monahan at the urinal next to R.M. and Monahan "glance[d] down towards [R.M.'s] penis area." R.B. stated he used a urinal later and Monahan went to the next urinal. Due to his awareness of other incidents, R.B. looked over and stated he believed Monahan was looking at his penis.

         B.P. was on the same track team and was then fifteen years old. He stated he used a urinal in the restroom and Monahan went to the next urinal. B.P. stated from his peripheral vision he saw Monahan lean back and look down at his privates. He testified he later used the urinal again and the same thing happened. B.P. stated he was looking straight ahead, but saw Monahan with his peripheral vision. He also stated when he was washing his hands he saw in the mirror Monahan looked at W.W. Deputy James Doty testified it was possible to see the urinals from the mirrors above the sinks in the restroom. At the close of the State's evidence, Monahan filed a motion for judgment of acquittal, which was denied by the court.

         Monahan presented the testimony of his physician, Dr. Jon Thomas, who testified Monahan has an enlarged prostate and this caused him to urinate frequently. Moreover, he was taking a diuretic for high blood pressure, which also causes frequent urination. In addition, Dr. Thomas testified Monahan had diabetes and if his blood sugar was too high, this would also cause frequent urination. Dr. Thomas stated Monahan had problems with balance and stability due to dysfunction in his ears. His diabetes caused tingling and numbness in his feet.

         Dr. Thomas described Monahan as being "very unsteady in the gait." Furthermore, Monahan had arthritis and muscle spasms in his neck, which caused severe pain.

         Lynn Ford, a former sheriff of Pottawattamie County, gave the opinion the investigation by law enforcement was problematic because the witnesses were not interviewed until several weeks after the incident. Ford also stated officials should have done more to determine the extent to which the witnesses discussed the incident with each other before they were interviewed. Ford went to the public restroom in Treynor, Iowa and made several measurements. There were four urinals in the restroom, with partitions about six feet high between the urinals. The urinals extended about fourteen inches from the wall and the partitions were about sixteen inches long, thus only extending two inches further out from the wall than the urinals.

         Kenneth Schreiber, the athletic director at St. Albert's, testified he noticed Monahan made more frequent use of the restroom. He stated he had known Monahan for many years and never had any cause for concern. Dan Gradoville, a former student, testified Monahan had "a little more trouble maneuvering around, " and was sometimes out of balance. John Helton, a co-worker, testified Monahan "kind of wobbles these last two years." He stated Monahan sometimes had an accident where he did not get to the restroom in time. Monahan also presented the testimony of several past and present students who testified they never had any concerns about his behavior. Monahan renewed his motion for judgment of acquittal, which was again denied by the court.

         The court determined Monahan was guilty of five counts of invasion of privacy. The court found the testimony of the boys was credible. The court concluded Monahan "looked directly at each boy's penis, " and he "did so with the specific intent to arouse or gratify [his] sexual desires." The court also found the boys had a reasonable expectation of privacy while in a partial state of nudity as they were urinating in the public restroom.

         Monahan filed a motion for new trial and motion in arrest of judgment, seeking to overturn the court's verdict on several grounds. The court found a claim regarding the waiver of a jury trial was not ripe for adjudication. The court also found Monahan had not timely raised a challenge to the trial information, on a claim of vagueness. On other issues concerning the sufficiency of the evidence, the court overruled the motions. Monahan was sentenced to thirty days in jail on each count, to be served concurrently, and the court suspended the sentence. Monahan was placed on informal probation for one year and ordered to register as a sex offender. Monahan now appeals his convictions.

         II. ...


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